THE RUNES' INTERPRETED…
There are two distinct theories regarding the origins of the runes. Archeological theory holds that they came along with the migration of the ancient mother-culture of the Indo-Europeans, while Esoteric theory holds that they are the cosmic encodements from the very beginnings of the Teutonic Folk, formulated within a vast ancient and primeval civilization oft called Thule, the Mother-Land or Hyperborea. However, one thing remains a constant given no matter how many distinctly different interpretations of where and how the Runic system came into this realm of MidgardR… the origins of the Time and Location of this venerated form of communicational divination seems to be lost forever within the veils of antiquity.
or where to begin
Most scholars do however agree, that though the common Indo-European Scandinavian languages of Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and latter Iclandic and Faeroic, may have been spoken in and around Great Scania for many thousands of years, the art of writing developed late in this frigid northern land. Thanks to recent advancements in archeology, the rune-staves can now be historically dated at 2,500 years old. On the surface they are a set of 24 angular letters making up the original alphabet of the Northern European tribes, as noted by the Greek traveler Pythias of Maseilles in 350 BCE and the Roman historian Tacticus in 98 CE. Were the runes then actually crafted as an indigenous form of written communication to rival those of the Far-Eastern and Mediterranean Classical languages.
Perhaps, but on a much deeper level, the runes are mystical symbols created by ancient Northern seers to insure that valuable esoteric knowledge will not become lost in the succeeding generations. The word "rune" is defined by ideas of secrecy, mystery, whisperings, and confidentiality, and they were taught to a chosen few in their infancy, thus lending credit to their magical nature. Realize also that the runic script is easily adaptable to religious purposes such as vocations, maledictions, and protections, adding even further credit of their naturalism.
The twenty-four characters of the eldest surviving runerow are arranged into an utterly original order comprising of three sets of eight, each with respectively different phonic values, and derive their name from the first six letters of the first Ætt, which are transcribed as F-U-TH-A-R-K. Taking the form of runic carvings around the third or second century BCE, but deriving from a far older Bronze Age system entitled the Hällristningar, Elder Futhark inscriptions on various objects such as wood, bone, metal, and stone have virtually perished in the harsh northern climes. Ranging in an area from Vínland to Romania, and from the Arctic to North Africa, the oldest "survivor" which scholars have yet obtained and verified, is found on a corner-stone of a building within the ancient city of Trevium, another is risted onto a spearhead from Norway, circa 175 CE. Another verified source, this on a stone from Denmark, dates from the period of around 189 CE. Therefore this immense geographical area also gives credence to their widespread popularity, attesting to the runes remarkable durability down through the Ages.
Though the runes are little suited to the art of writing upon parchment due to their angular nature, which thus ensures their readability when risted into visibly granular substances, they did indeed develop and ultimately penetrate all layers of Scandinavian society for well over 1300 years before Kristian laws harshly forced them underground, where they again became a whispered secret, persisting for calendrical, local and famial purposes down to present times.
Left nearly pure and accurate to its original state, the Northern runic cosmology can be found to have been preserved within such wondrous works as Snorri Sturlason's Elder Edda and Prose Edda, as well as the various Sagas and Tales by not only the Brothers Grimm, but also the countless others who have written various works in regards to this marvelous Tradition.
Understood on three separate levels, idea, sound and letter, the runes are created from within an ancient spiritual tradition. Foremost the runes enable the Seeker to create a bridge for powerful images to flow from the collective unconscious into one's conscious mind. They may also be used as a tool of divination by predicting the general future course of events which can then be altered if so desired. Only later were they actually used as an alphabet within the culture of the North.
The runes are a practical alphabet which were developed out of necessity, not only for their obvious convenience of long distance correspondence, but also for their underlying subtlety of expressing the freedom and true independence of Great Scania from the ever expanding Roman Empire. Most adults in Roman-age Europe possessed, at the least, one knife of sorts, and wood carving was often a highly prized skill easily honed during the long northern winters. So creating an alphabet that could be easily carved into wood and other surfaces with straight lines was simply a natural development.
Most runic inscriptions identify the ownership or burial site of someone or they dedicate something useful, such as a bridge, to a fallen hero or family member. They are as distinct as the Rune-Master creating them, although there have been numerous finds to date which do contain repetitions and what is oft referred to as gibberish once translated. Whether these are in the nature of magickal talismans, or simply a lack of understanding by them doing the risting is as yet unknown.
Early in their history, the runes had very few writing rules or conventions. The runes could be written right to left, left to right, or Boustrophedon – right to left on one line, left to right on the next, etc. across the surface. During Europe's ill-famed Dark Ages, as the Latin alphabet became more dominant, the Roman convention of left to right became the accepted norm. Early in the history of this Northern alphabet, runic letters were often reversed. Individual staves and their mirror images should always be represented by the same phonetic values, excepting of course when three identical runes are placed one after another - as this magickly changes the following runes in succession.
The Elder Futhark, known by the more popular geographical title of the Germanic Futhark consists of 24, not 25, individual staves for there is no blank rune as some would suggest. Wyrd is a constant given when interpreting castings, if you are not to know of something - you are not informed, it's as simple as that. This intricate Northern divinational system can also be used as a guide to help one through the unique course of spiritual growth, as each stave is a successive step towards the ultimate Human goal of attaining Divine Will.
There are nine of the twenty-four runes which are reversible, meaning that they look the same down-side up/up-side down. Most often the use of inverse meanings will depend upon the situation as well as to the type of questing, there-fore, give full range of both positive and negative meanings regardless of their position, and seek the purposeful input which you feel is genuinely appropriate, remembering that as you gain experience you can/will always modify the meanings as you gain insight. How-so-ever you choose to divine, simply establish in advance of the reading whether or not you will restrict inverse meanings for the type of read you will employ, as this will guarantee a more successful casting.
This then concludes a very brief overview regarding the rune-staves within the ancient Northern Spiritual Tradition, ever transmitting wisdom from epoch to epoch and from generation to generation without the over-all common risk of dilution, manipulation or mis-interpretation.
RUNIC GRAPHICS BY KENULFHEIM
copyright © 2000 Reverend Godhi Yens Jensen all rights reserved